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Venezuela

Deadly Post-Election Violence In Venezuela, As Maduro Blames CIA

CLARIN, LA CAPITAL (Argentina); 20 MINUTOS (Spain); TELESUR (Venezuela); REUTERS

Worldcrunch

CARACAS - Unrest after Sunday’s Venezuelan elections has left at least seven dead and more than 60 injured, with president-elect Nicolas Maduro and his opponent Henrique Capriles each blaming the other for provoking the escalating violence. Maduro, speaking early Wednesday, also blamed the CIA for inciting the unrest.

Two of the victims were shot dead by opposition supporters during a celebration of Maduro’s win in the capital and, in a separate incident, a 24 year-old man was killed in an attack on a government-run clinic, Reuters reports. Officials said more than 170 people had been arrested; while among the injured was a woman whom protesters tried to burn alive.

The protests began Sunday night, when Capriles called for the people to show their discontent by holding cazerolazo protests -- banging pots and pans to make noise. This quickly escalated with riot police firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowds to control them.

According to Clarin, Capriles accused Maduro of ordering the attacks with the aim of avoiding a recount of votes. But on Tuesday night, Capriles called for an end to the protests scheduled for Wednesday, with the aim of avoiding the escalating violence.

Maduro, who'd served as vice-president to Hugo Chavez, declared early Wednesday that the opposition was conspiring to make the public believe that is the government was behind all of the violence, reports TeleSur. The possibility of legal action against Capriles has been called for by some senior government officials, accusing him of beginning to incite a coup.

On Tuesday, Washington said it would not recognize Maduro’s government as legitimate until a full recount of the vote.

Later, Maduro accused the U.S. -- more specifically, the CIA -- of financing and orchestrating the protests, writes Spanish 20 Minutos, calling them “the historic enemy of the people.

“The CIA finance them the violent protestors and now they’re planning electrical sabotage,” he claimed, revealing the “plan” to leave Venezuela without light.

Capriles has said that should anything happen to him, he holds Maduro responsible, reiterating it via Twitter Tuesday night.

Cualquier cosa que me pase en la Residencia Oficial en los Teques hago responsable a Nicolás Maduro!

— Henrique Capriles R. (@hcapriles) April 17, 2013

The tension in Venezuela has transferred to the financial markets, but the main source of income for the country -- the state-owned oil company PDVSA -- remained stable, reports La Capital.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Western Tanks To Ukraine Trigger Russian Threats — But Also Fears Of Major Counterattack

Germany and the U.S. overcame months of reluctance in the past 24 hours to commit to sending heavy combat tanks to Ukraine. Russia responded with official bluster, but others in Moscow fear that the tanks delivery could be a gamechanger on the battlefield.

Picture of recently mobilized Russian troops

Recently mobilized Russian troops getting ready to depart for service

Cameron Manley

A week of growing expectations of a coming Russian offensive was turned on its head Wednesday as Germany and the U.S. announced their intention to send heavy combat tanks to Ukraine.

The sudden show of resolve on supplying tanks — after months of reluctance, particularly from Germany — has prompted some Russians to fear that Ukraine will now be equipped for a major counterattack. That would be significant reversal after speculation had been growing this month about a Russian spring offensive.

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government confirmed Wednesday morning that Berlin plans to send at least 14 German-built Leopard 2 tanks to the frontline. U.S. media also reported that Joe Biden’s administration is expected to officially announce Washington's commitment, with at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks expected to be sent.

The timeline remains unclear as to when the vehicles would make it into combat. Still, both sides on the war acknowledged that it is a significant development with the potential to change the math on the battlefield.

Official Russian response was loaded with typical incendiary rhetoric. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian president Vladimir Putin, said the new tanks would "burn like all the rest, only these ones are expensive.”

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